GRAM genes and abscisic acid (ABA) metabolism in the reproductive development of Arabidopsis thaliana

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Baron, Kevin
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Abscisic acid (ABA) is a key plant hormone regulating agronomically important processes including seed maturation and dormancy, stomatal opening and closure, along with the transcriptional and physiological response of plants to abiotic and biotic stresses. The current study sought to functionally characterize members of an ABA-responsive gene family encoding GRAM (Glucosyltransferases, Rab-like GTPase activators and Myotubularins) domain proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana. Utilizing reverse genetics loss- and gain-of-function lines associated with GEM-RELATED 5 (GER5) were obtained, which displayed several defects in reproductive development. Gene expression profiling, RNA in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical techniques were utilized to evaluate GER5 and two closely related GRAM genes, GEM-RELATED 1 (GER1) and GLABRA2 EXPRESSION MODULATOR (GEM) in reproductive structures. Microarray profiling of seeds from ger5-2 mutants and wild-type plants revealed transcriptional changes in carbohydrate metabolism, hormone signaling and catabolic processes accompanied seed development defects of ger5-2 mutants. Seed germination assays further revealed ger5-2 mutants exhibited reduced sensitivity to ABA. In assessing GER5, GER1 and GEM as putative ABA-response genes, a second study evaluated the expression of GRAM, AuTophaGy-related (ATG), and ABA-response genes in source and sink organs exposed to abiotic stress or within mutant backgrounds deficient in sugar signaling. Monodansylcadaverine (MDC) staining was also utilized to localize autophagosomes or autophagic bodies within vegetative or reproductive organs during plant development, or in response to carbon starvation or abiotic stress. In a third study transcriptional differences in ABA metabolism, transport and homeostasis were examined within reproductive organs (cauline leaves, inflorescence meristem, developing siliques) exposed to cold and heat stress. This study revealed reproductive organs are characterized by unique patterns of ABA metabolism which differ from tissues typically associated with classical ABA responses. Together, these studies indicate GER5, an uncharacterized ABA-responsive GRAM domain gene, plays a novel role in the reproductive development of plants and that ABA metabolism and signaling are uniquely regulated in reproductive organs.
abscisic acid, GRAM, reproductive development, abiotic stress, Arabidopsis thaliana
Baron KN, Schroeder DF, Stasolla (2012) Transcriptional response of abscisic acid (ABA) metabolism and transport to cold and heat stress applied at the reproductive stage of development in Arabidopsis thaliana